Avoid red tape disease, DIAND minister says

Indian Affairs and Northern Development Minister Jane Stewart said Nunavut planners shouldn’t drive exploration companies away with excessive regulation and red tape.


Nunatsiaq News

IQALUIT Indian and Northern Affairs Minister Jane Stewart has told territorial bureaucrats to waste no time creating simple regulations to guide Nunavut’s natural resource development.

During her brief trip to Iqaluit last week, where she signed over millions of dollars worth of development and training money, Stewart suggested any delays in setting up Nunavut’s regulatory machinery would be felt economically.

In reviewing the work of a number of regulators the minister cautioned Nunavut planners against sending the wrong signals to potential private investors.

“We’re starting to see, as certainty evolves with the land claim being settled, new resource activity, new exploration activity. And that’s positive, that’s good,” said Stewart, who’s on her first visit to Nunavut since being named to the federal cabinet last June.

But Stewart said Nunavut leaders now need to co-ordinate their efforts to safeguard Nunavut’s economic future.

“Making sure that the resource industry understands the structure and the structure is in place so that they can understand it, is a challenge for us,” Stewart said.

Anawak must communicate

Stewart and her aides made several stops over the course of a busy two-day schedule in Iqaluit last week.

In several private meetings with Interim Commissioner Jack Anawak, which she described as “very constructive,” the minister talked about the need for “good and effective communications” so that communities are kept abreast of all aspects of Nunavut’s development.

“I think the importance of communications with all citizens is one of the underpinnings of the success of the project.”

Although a great deal of work remains to be done between now and April 1, 1999, Stewart said she was “really impressed with the energy” that’s going into the project.

During her stay, the minister met with directors of Nunavut Construction Corp. to review plans for new infrastructure development in the territory.

She also visited the offices of the Qikiqtani Inuit Association, Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. the Nunavut Implementation Commission and the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board.

“What’s important for me was getting a sense of the importance of these structures, and how effective these structures are in managing the resources of the territory,” she said.

During a stopover at Nunavut Arctic College, a student confided in Stewart that the creation of the new territory was exciting interest among even the most apolitical people.

“Talking to folks about where they’re at and what their energy levels are, heartened me tremendously,” Stewart said.

“There is great capability and everybody’s going to have to use their expertise and potential to make this work, right from the students who are studying under the programs that have been provided for human resource development, to the commissioners and the interim commissioner and the leadership of NTI.”

Although she is not directly participating in talks between Ottawa and the GNWT on formula financing deals for Nunavut and the remainder of the NWT, Stewart did say she expects a proposal for funding Nunavut and the west after division to be ready by next spring.

A special committee steered by the GNWT’s Department of Finance is now discussing financial arrangements for the two new territories.

The Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, which is ultimately responsible for the transition costs, has been represented on the committee by Judy Tanguay of the Nunavut Secretariat.

“It’s clearly a topic of discussion and one that we want to get settled as quickly as we can, because when that’s settled, it’ll be an important piece of the project that’s out of the way,” Stewart said.

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